My last year was a bit of a physical struggle. I had several injuries and they all seemed to be thrown at me all at the same time. It was very stressful for me because I was incapable of doing a lot of activities which bothers me very much. I am the kind of person who doesn’t like to show weakness and toughs it out. Usually if I get physically hurt I pretend that everything is alright and I can shake it off. I did this with my ankle which I just figured was a sprain and acted like it was no big deal. Little did I know it was actually fractured and it is still not healed because I didn’t tell anyone how much it actually hurt. Now some of you may be thinking: “what does this have to do with a camp testimony?” Well, through this injury I realized (just now actually) that I do the exact same thing emotionally.
When I was about three my parents got divorced. Back then I didn’t really understand the concept of it, only that my dad lived in another state. As I started to grow up I noticed that he only called on my Birthday and Christmas and sent me presents on those days. That was my relationship with my dad for 11 years. 2 phone calls a year, maybe an occasional email. Just this year he emailed me saying he wanted to visit me for my birthday. I really had no idea what to say. Automatically I should have just been saying yes, because that was the chance to finally see him in person. However, there was a small piece of my heart that was reluctant. I had contacted one of the counselors the past summer about a similar situation and they had said that God wants us to reconnect with those we have lost, even if it doesn’t mean becoming extremely close. It requires baby steps. I decided to say yes, but as the days lead up to my birthday I was dreading the day he was coming rather than glowing with excitement. When the day came I was so emotionally confused that I couldn’t even go say “hi” to him. I didn’t have any clue what to say, how to react, what to look like, and even how to truly feel about it. He ended up staying the long weekend and we spent some time around my town. I thought that that time would have been a time to catch up but his way of fixing that long amount of time away from each other was to buy me things. After all that time of that weak relationship he still hadn’t changed. All I had wanted was my dad to finally fill in that huge gap he had left so long ago, and he still hasn’t realized that today.
My mom has hurt me emotionally very much. She has raised me my whole life and I love her but her decisions have wounded my heart SO deeply that sometimes it’s difficult to be able to say that. I don’t want to get into complete details but she has made some pretty bad choices on her lifestyle and those choices have dragged me down. It was like I was caught on an anchor and stuck at the bottom. For several years I would pray and pray and pray to God about why He was putting me through all of this struggle. I couldn’t understand why He chose me to be stuck with such pain. It was so hard for me and I was so ashamed of what my mom had done that I could never speak to a single soul about it. Everyday around my friends, neighbors, and other family I would pretend that my life was so great but it really wasn’t. I couldn’t even admit to myself the pain I was in until camp this year. After what I had been going through with my mom and dad, I was just about ready to give up on God. He wasn’t helping me at all. There was still a small part of me that kept reminding me of camp though. So I decided to hang on just a bit longer. I am so glad I did.
This year at camp I was welcomed into new, warm, and encouraging arms of my new friends or should I say, family. I finally could talk to the counselors face-to-face after a year of waiting. Right at the beginning of camp I could automatically feel my struggles fading away and me growing closer to God. Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday went by in a flash. When Thursday had hit, I realized that I would be walking back into the other 95% of my life very soon. I knew that with the support and help from the people at camp that I could finally let out what I had kept in for so long before the week was up. I finally got to talk to a counselor. I let everything out and it felt so amazing. I had finally been released from the anchor I had been caught on. That counselor had let me know that she would be there for me every step of the way, far beyond camp and that God would too. That reassurance had felt so great and I am so thankful to have been able to talk to her.
On the last day I knew there was one more person I needed to get help from. There wasn’t much time I could talk to that counselor but in that short amount of time, he had filled the hole in my heart that hadn’t been filled in a very long time. After feeling unloved and unimportant, he had told me that I was inspiring. Nobody has ever told me that I was an inspiration to them. I didn’t and still don’t feel worthy of that praise because I have been thrown down so much that I’m not used to it. But it had showed me that even without as much support at home, I had 150 other people in the same room who would show me that I mean something. He had also suggested that I tell the camp about what I am going through. I had felt immediate panic when that thought went through my head but God was telling me that it was time to let go of holding it in. So this is what I am doing for all of you. It has taken A LOT of courage from me to not leave this anonymous but I know in my heart that this is for not only me but all of you. I’ve felt that hard time where I felt that I had to keep quiet and stay in my surreal perfect world around everyone and I don’t want people to feel like they have to do that. Speaking out about problems if probably one of the most difficult things in life, but it is the first step in taking all of that pain away. There are people out there, including me, that just want to hold your hand and say “I’m here for you”. It sounds extremely cliché, but I really mean it and if I didn’t I wouldn’t be doing this right now. So even when you can’t speak to your closest family and friends like I couldn’t or you just need someone to talk to, please send me a message, text, email, letter, phone call or anything. Now if you’ve gotten through this lengthy testimony, don’t feel afraid to speak out.
One last thing: waiting is the most difficult part. Trust me I know. Now that I have gotten back from camp I have realized that my problems won’t be fixed right away. I learned that God is slowly but surely working to answer my prayers even if it’s not the way I planned them to be. I have to keep trying and keep praying and not give up after one week of camp. And I pray that all of you will walk with me and wait.
“But as for me, I watch in hope for the Lord, I wait for my savior; my God will hear me.” (Micah 7:7)